Personal Trainer’s Health Journey: The Ups & Downs

Personal Trainer’s Health Journey: The Ups & Downs

By Nicole Hogan-Jenkins | Expert Fitness Trainer

My story begins as the typical weight loss fairytale; girl meets gym, girl falls in love with gym, girl loses weight, discovers her rocking new body and lives happily ever after. No one talks about the story that takes place after the girl jogs off into the sunset wearing her new sports bra and booty shorts. I believe in sharing the entire story, the good, bad and the ugly, to help others learn from my experiences. I hope my story inspires you, saves you a lot of frustration and prevents you from giving up all hope and reaching for the cheesecake in the freezer.

I had always been pretty active, but I was also the kid who had to watch what she ate. My fitness fairytale began when I turned 27 and weighed in at over 200 lbs. I saw a picture of myself from a holiday party the year prior and I didn’t recognize myself. That motivated me to enter my first fitness competition in April of 2007. I started working out, cut out alcohol, processed foods and shared my goal all of my friends and family (so I couldn’t back out). I lost over 50 lbs. that year and won 3rd place in my first fitness contest in October of 2007. I was on top of the world!

nicole weight loss progress

I managed to keep the weight off for the next two years and entered my second competition in 2009. I didn’t place, but I didn’t care about the trophy. I looked great! This is when I jog off into the sunset and live happily ever after, right?

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nicole competing in fitness competition

My new found love for fitness inspired me to leave the corporate world, become a certified personal trainer and work in the fitness industry full-time. It was amazing! I was helping people reach their fitness goals and I was changing lives daily. I started my own personal training business, was running a weekly boot camp and even met my now husband in the gym. I was also working 15 hour days, getting 4 hours of sleep each night, never had any days off and got completely burned out. My relationship with the gym began to shift. The gym, the former love of my life, became a source of stress. I stopped working out and gained 60 lbs. in a year. Patrons at the gym started to ask, “what happened to you?”. I went from being the “fitness competitor girl” to overweight and depressed. I felt so bad that I quit personal training at the gym and went back to the corporate world.

At 32 years old, I was 60+ lbs. overweight and had completely lost my motivation to be healthy. I reached my breaking point when my now husband would ask me to go out, but I would decline because none of my clothes fit. I remember standing in the closet and crying because I couldn’t get a dress up past my hips. I had to make a change. At this point, the thought of the gym made me cringe and I was too embarrassed to let former clients see my weight gain. I started taking hot yoga twice a week. I was huge challenge at first, but the yogis were so motivating. I eventually started to enjoy being active again. I cut back on drinking alcohol and cut out all of the crap food that I was eating (picture cheese fries, pizza and milkshakes). I felt so much better! Eventually I began to look better.

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nicole and husband

It took me another two years to find my passion for the gym again. There are still mornings when I would rather sleep in than go to the gym, but exercise makes me feel good now. I would love to fill my days with deep-dish pizzas and craft beers, but I feel so much better when I eat healthy. My definition of fitness is not about “looks” anymore. It is about long term health, staying active to maintain my balance, flexibility and mobility and enjoying family gatherings without freaking out about calories. Fitness and wellness is an ongoing journey and I am looking forward to the adventures yet to come.

Nicole personal trainer bio

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